Think about what it is that you love the most in the world.  Is it your significant other? child? grandchild? parents? grandparents? friends? money? cars? fame? prestige? your job?  Whatever it is, think about it for a minute.  Go ahead, I’ll wait…

If God asked you to give that up for Him, would you?

That’s the question that Abraham (whose name has been changed at this point) has to deal with.  He and his wife Sarah waited for decades to finally have a son together.  Isaac is their firstborn, the heir, the one on whom all of God’s promises rest.  And God comes to Abraham one day and says something unbelievable.

Take your son, your only son – yes, Isaac, whom you love so much – and go to the land of Moriah.  Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you (Genesis 22:2).

Wow.  The crazy thing about this story is that we don’t see Abraham struggle.  I’m not saying that he didn’t, but there’s no indication in the text that he did.  He picks up and gets ready to do what God tells him to do.  Isaac is old enough to know what’s going on at this point because he notices that there is no animal for the sacrifice, but he is also innocent enough to not realize what is going on.

Child sacrifice was not uncommon in the Canaanite religious practices of Abraham’s day.  Perhaps that is why we don’t see much of a struggle with it from the elderly father.  Perhaps he trusted that the Lord would provide another child for him.  Who knows?  But there’s also something very significant in this passage that we can’t miss.

“God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham answered.  And they both walked on together (Genesis 22:8).

“God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son.”  Some scholars point to this passage as a condemnation of child sacrifice in the ancient world.  Because God does indeed provide the sheep for the sacrifice and saves the boy from certain doom, therefore, God is saying that child sacrifice is an unacceptable practice.  What we see here is that Yahweh, the God of Scripture, is very different from the gods of the culture.  A truth that sticks with us, even today.

We have all kinds of gods in our culture that demand our sacrifices.  God speaks into our world today saying, “No, you don’t need to sacrifice to these so-called gods.  You simply need to dedicate yourself to me.”

Think about what you love most.  Is God more important to you than that?